Traditional highway robbers gave victims a choice of keeping one or the other, but Congress is poised next week to help insurance and financial marauders deprive Americans of both.
Under the radar of the health care mess, financial regulatory reform is being held up as lame duck Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Chris Dodd fails to find a single Republican to join him in a minimal attempt to control Wall Street's runaway excesses.
"What Mr. Dodd needs to do," the New York Times declares in an editorial, "is to introduce the toughest and smartest legislation he can to revamp the financial system and protect American consumers. And he and President Obama need to twist the arms of Democratic committee members to bring the strongest possible bill to the Senate floor.
"Their rallying cry couldn’t be any clearer: Whose side are you on? The banks or the American people?"
A clue to the answer came last week in a 2200-page report on Lehman Brothers, showing how executives of the fallen firm practiced “materially misleading” accounting and “actionable balance sheet manipulation” to avoid going under in 2008, even as then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson made strenuous efforts to save them.
Sen. Dodd himself is no stranger to the Wall Street-Washington web of scandal that has undermined efforts to protect investors over the years, but he has a chance to atone in a last hurrah by fighting for meaningful new controls.
Or will he give way to Republican efforts to slow up legislation as he gets ready to go into retirement and the waiting period before he can go to work lobbying for Wall Street?